I spent many hours writing this answer and many days preparing it.

Is it fair to desk-reject the above paper based solely on this one sentence?

The question primarily asks if it is fair to desk-reject heretical ideas if they run counter to the established knowledge (an antithesis in my opinion; knowledge should always be open to challenge, never established, in my humble opinion).

Others have explained well why it may not be a good idea to desk-reject on the basis of contrarianism alone. I added some historical examples where exactly this stand of not even considering contrarian ideas turned out to be strongly unfair.

It is an attempt at a proof by counterexamples, and intends to complement other answers which are well written and cover all of the important points.

Yet the SE community unkindly engaged in mass downvoting without explaining, and have made the answer invisible.

Why is an answer that is a complement to others considered so bad?

The highest upvoted answer says:

That procedure would remove the ability to overturn incorrect mainstream results.

I only provided supportive examples for this statement.

As a matter of fact, one of my examples (3rd) is mentioned in multiple highly upvoted comments. I wanted to add the complete story, while also adding 2 more examples. How is that so bad?

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    Why do you spend hours and days preparing answers for an online forum? It feels like there is better things to do with your time...
    – Sursula
    Mar 21, 2023 at 10:34
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    @Sursula True. It is a learning experience for me. Sorry for that and thank you for caring for my best (which is quite rare online) 🙏🏼 Mar 21, 2023 at 10:43
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    I spent many hours writing this answer and many days preparing it. – How could you spend many days preparing an answer to a question which was only asked yesterday?
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Mar 21, 2023 at 10:50
  • @Wrzlprmft The answer was prepared over many days of reading and studying. Originally, I had written a part of the text to a friend (with 0 references and only 2 examples). For the SE answer, I adopted that text which I had sent to the friend and added all references and an additional example, while also elaborating on the 2 existing examples. Mar 21, 2023 at 11:02
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    @Wrzlprmft Please forgive me, but I feel pained that I am being made to answer unimportant issues. My only point was that the answer is well researched and highly referenced and involved considerable investment of time and effort to create. Mar 21, 2023 at 11:12
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    So, you spent effort to prepare a text on a topic which you adapted into an answer to a question that happened to go in roughly the same direction. In that case it’s not surprising that the question has a different focus than your text – which is what I think happened here. You answer can be well researched and on an important topic, but you also need to post it on the right question.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Mar 21, 2023 at 14:57
  • @Wrzlprmft I understand, thank you. I will try to write better answers in future. Mar 24, 2023 at 8:17
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    Seems odd to me that this question was downvoted. I'm not suggesting that the original answer being referenced by the OP was a good answer ... but it does seem reasonable as a new comer, to ask for assistance in understanding why the original answer was down-voted. I imagine that the accepted answer to this question, which would not exist but for this question, will be helpful to lost of new-comers. Apr 16, 2023 at 12:26
  • @CrimsonDark Thank you for your kind supportive comment. I believe you will also agree that the answer in its current form is not as bad that to be made invisible, which the community has done by mass downvoting. Apr 16, 2023 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


Your answer seems well-supported (though I haven't gone through the references in detail) and you make a good point: some crazy ideas today may well be accepted science tomorrow.

The question, however, asked something else. The question asked about the right balance between being open to new ideas, and rapidly shutting down "crackpot" papers. And this is precisely the dilemma: if you desk reject papers that make impossible claims, you might reject a great breakthrough. But if you send out every crackpot paper for full peer review, you will quickly have problems. So, OP was asking whether one "rule of thumb" was fair.

I'm guessing the downvotes were because it seems like you didn't appreciate this dilemma. It's as if someone asked: should we give money to charity or save for retirement? and your answer said "there are some amazing charities doing amazing work, such as these three." It might be a correct, well-written answer, but it's not really helpful toward the theoretical OP, who still has to make a difficult decision about helping others vs. saving for their own future.

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    Some downvotes may also be because of how replete the early versions of the answer were with trivia details that are irrelevant both to the question and the point made in the answer, such as causes of deaths.
    – Anyon
    Mar 21, 2023 at 16:25
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    @cag51 I understand, thank you. I will try to write better answers in future. Mar 24, 2023 at 8:17
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    @Anyon Please forgive me, for some reason I felt that the mentioning the manner of deaths helps me connect with the humanity of the scientist in question. I can see how that could be considered distracting and irrelevant. I will not include it in future. However, most of the downvotes were after I had removed the manner of death (I removed it after only the first downvote). Mar 24, 2023 at 8:29
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    @cag51 I understood the dilemma. My answer only tries to emphasize that under no circumstances is it best to reject heretic claims based on their contrarianism alone, without going through the reasoning. It may still have to be done due to other constraints of time and effort, but it is never best. Mar 24, 2023 at 8:43
  • @Anyon The answer continues to be down-voted even now, long after removing the trivia details after the 1st downvote, as well as adding sufficient text to fit the evidence with the question. So, it does seem to me that it is mass downvoting to punish a political disagreement, rather than the quality of the answer. Mar 25, 2023 at 7:26
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    Once the downvote train gets rolling, it’s hard to apply the brakes. I wouldn’t worry too much about it at this point.
    – cag51 Mod
    Mar 25, 2023 at 12:57
  • @cag51 Thank you so much for this guidance. As an inexperienced writer on SE with only a few attempts, I believed that I should try to continue to improve the answer to make it acceptable to the community. Mar 26, 2023 at 14:56

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